If you have a passion for cooking, there’s a good chance it will rub off on your child. At a young age when they watch and learn all the time, they see how you come alive in the kitchen, how the aromas, tastes and textures of creative cooking put a smile on your face. If your little one looks like they are taking an interest in what goes on in the kitchen, here are some sure-fire ways to nurture that early spark…
Invite them in early
Tiny children love to feel involved and if you allow them to watch as you chop, slice, sift and stir; it won’t be long before they’re asking to do it themselves. Give them safe utensils to play with made from plastic – chances are they’ll use them as drum sticks initially, but soon enough they will be wanting to copy your behaviour. When they are old enough, as well as making them feel a mile high, allowing them to peel, chop and whisk away can help improve manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
With the runaway success of TV programmes such as The Great British Bake Off, exposing children to the endless possibilities of baking is relatively easy. Start off with simple recipes such as biscuits and cup cakes and gradually step up to more challenging bakes as their confidence increases. Young children love to decorate cakes so it’s a great idea to have a cupboard crammed with products to help get their creative juices flowing. The exercise of weighing ingredients, following a method and achieving a positive result can be a revelation for children and works wonders in the areas of problem solving.
Family meals are the perfect time for everybody to get together, share news and catch up. A kitchen with dining table and chairs sets the scene perfectly for eating together. After cooking, encourage children to complete the process fully by setting the table and serving the food. The compliments and praise they receive for their efforts will make them keen to repeat the exercise.
Take the opportunity of talking to your child about healthy eating during kitchen sessions. Eating habits are formed very early, so if you can interest them in fruit and vegetables and the idea of using less fat, salt and sugar in recipes, then you will be giving them a wonderful start.
A taste for adventure
Preparing recipes from different parts of the world is a wonderful way of starting conversations about far-away places. Teaching children about other cultures through their food is a simple way of getting them to open up to new experiences and feel confident and comfortable about trying new flavours. Cooking and geography lessons are the perfect kitchen combination, just like apple pie and custard! Also, encourage children to seek out recipes themselves that they would like to try. A scrapbook of recipes and foodie inspiration is a wonderful way of engaging their interest long term.
Raising children to be happy, confident cooks is something all parents should try. Start off with some easy baking projects and see where it takes you…The results could be delicious!